If you’re reading this, chances are you were once an athlete. Hey, maybe you were a highly touted recruit out of high school or maybe your peak was in college. Regardless, I’m sure you’ve come to miss the game. It doesn’t matter what sport it was – it was once an integral part of your life and now there is a void that needs filling. This is my experience with the process, and you might find that this link highlights some of the issues ex-athletes have (I know how to make friends and do my own laundry though, thank you very much).
It’s becoming a bit of a conundrum. As my girlfriend and roommates can tell you, I’ve gotten a little out of hand with my itch. I lay in bed, tossing the football up and down, end up working on my left hand when my right gets tired. Every once in a while I grab my glove and a ball and do the same. Then I switch to my volleyball, setting from my back. My girlfriend is surely sick of hearing me say “ugh, I just wish I was out there” instead of just relaxing and enjoying the game. My roommates must be tired of me asking “hey, want to play catch?” and my buddy on campus is definitely sick of me dragging him from his homework to toss between classes. Luckily for me, I have intramural sports and a good group of friends who can help me with my itch. Others aren’t so fortunate and wind up stuck in the “good-ole days”, washed up.
I’m not immune to thinking about the past, though. I find myself thinking back to standing on the mound and pitching a complete game, or lining up a forward and knocking him back to the 5th grade when he tries to toe-drag around me in hockey. More recently however, I have noticed a trend in my thoughts and my actions – no matter what sport I’m watching (especially in person), I need to be out there competing. I watch my brother’s football games and even though I’ve never played the sport, I know I can do better than that tight end, that quarterback AND that linebacker. I haven’t played collegiate baseball for two years, but I am sure that when I go on my exchange to the states, I could compete at the collegiate level again. I even find myself watching basketball, climbing videos, and extreme sports more often – things I’ve never really watched before recently, just trying to feel the rush of sport and competition. Don’t even get me started on highlight tapes and videos leading up to the NFL Draft (I’m team Cooper for the Raiders at 4).
I catch myself wondering, “What if I played football in high school? What if I played more golf when I was younger? Should I have stuck with tennis lessons?” and of course, these are irrational thoughts and I clearly can’t go back in time. I can’t be out of my prime yet though, can I? There’s still time for me to pick up a sport and go pro, right? Not likely. The reality is, once you’ve committed your life to a sport you can’t just jump out of it and right into another, especially if injuries were the cause for your exit. I’ve figured this out after many nights of day-dreaming about hitting the gym hard and trying out for the varsity football team or getting my legs back and taking a second shot at hockey.
What do I do then, if my friends aren’t there to fuel my addiction? Usually I just need to get outside and toss a ball of some kind, but frequently nobody is able to. That is when I started focusing some of my energy into learning about a wider spectrum of sports so that I can hold a conversation about each one if the opportunity arises. I also began to dig deeper into the sports I already love with thoughts of being an analyst, broadcaster or sports-show host. I look at guys like Adam Lefkoe, Stephen Nelson, Chris Simms, Matt Miller (and many more) over at Bleacher Report and definitely imagine doing what they do. Experts in one sport typically, with a breadth of knowledge of all other sports, debating and discussing them for a living. The ultimate goal would be to have the career that last night’s guest on the Simms and Lefkoe Podcast, Mike Wilbon has had. The guy gets to golf with the president, has seen almost all of the historic events in sport first-hand, and gets to shoot the s*** with Tony Kornheiser on Pardon the Interuption for a living. What sports maniac doesn’t dream of that life?
Ever since quitting baseball for academic, health, and financial reasons, I have struggled to find a way to fill my void. I may have finally found the solution by keeping friends around who share my passion for sports, dating a (fantastic) woman who also loves sports, and writing/researching whenever I have the chance, to keep myself immersed in the sports world even if it’s only slightly more than a casual fan. Secretly though, I wish they brought back Pros vs. Joes because I would definitely apply.
Thanks for reading! If you want to know more about me, head to my “My Story” page, and if you just want to chat about sports, leave a comment and we can give it a go! I don’t know everything about all sports but I’m always extremely open to learning.